Making Indiana the State That Works – Mike Pence’s State GOP Convention Speech
Chairman Holcomb, Friends, Hoosiers and my fellow Republicans, on behalf of my wife Karen and our family, I humbly accept your nomination for governor of the state of Indiana.
As most of you know, I’m a lifelong Hoosier. In fact, every member of my family is a Hoosier…except our son. He’s a Boilermaker.
I grew up like a lot of small town boys…with big dreams and a cornfield in my backyard. But I have got to tell you…standing here as your candidate for governor is more than I could have ever asked or imagined.
Other than being a husband and father, serving Indiana as governor would be the highest honor of my life, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
But as they say, when you see a box turtle on a fence post, one thing you know for sure, he didn’t get there on his own. And I sure didn’t get to this point on my own. There are no self-made people in public life and that’s especially true for me. I would not be here today without the support of family and friends like you.
First and foremost, I am grateful to the woman who has been in my life and by my side for 27 years (our anniversary was yesterday), whose patience, whose love, whose devotion, whose grace, will make Karen Pence a wonderful First Lady for the great state of Indiana.
I’m grateful to our family, our children—my two girls, Charlotte and Audrey, and my son, Michael. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made as our family serves the people of Indiana.
To my brothers and sisters and sisters-in-law, to my irrepressible mother—the daughter of an Irish immigrant—who is with us here today.
And to all of you who encouraged me to run, (especially the good people of THE 6th DISTRICT) who nurtured and encouraged our service over all these years.
And to Sue Ellspermann, her husband Jim, their girls and her entire extended family, many who join us here today…thank you for answering the call of service to the people of Indiana with such poise and courage. Sue Ellspermann is going to be a great Lt. Governor of Indiana!
I am humbled by your confidence and support.
I am running for governor because I love this state, because I have a vision for the future. I believe Indiana is on the verge of an era of growth and opportunity like no time in the history of state, and if we meet this moment with the right leaders and the right ideas, Indiana will take her rightful place as the leading the state in the Midwest and one of the fastest growing state economies in America!
After 16 years of democratic leadership that left our state $700 million in debt, our roads were crumbling and our schools had gone unreformed for more than a generation.
In just under eight years, we’ve balanced budgets without raising taxes, cut taxes, earned a AAA bond rating, promoted economic freedom and given underprivileged kids the same choice in schools that other Hoosiers enjoy.
And while the credit for that progress belongs to every Hoosier, it especially belongs to those of you in this room who worked to make Mitch Daniels the 49th Governor of Indiana. The debt this state owes to Gov. Mitch Daniels is incalculable and can only be repaid by relentless imitation of his example.
The torch is being passed, but it is burning bright with promise because of Governor Mitch Daniels’ leadership and commitment to excellence.
As Indiana enters a new era, it’s important for us to stop and honor those who have served us well. To Governor Daniels, Lt. Governor Skillman, you have made Indiana better and stronger and you will always be in our hearts and you will always have our thanks.
As we begin a new chapter in our state’s history, we must recognize that, despite the progress we’ve made…our work is far from over.
As we gather today:
- 255,000 Hoosiers are out of work (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- Nearly 1 million Hoosiers lack the most basic skills needed to find a job (source: Indiana Chamber Vision 2025)
- 20,000 Hoosier teens leave school each year without earning a high school diploma (source: Indiana Chamber Vision 2025)
- 22% of Hoosier children live in poverty (Source: Kids Count Data Center, Casey Foundation)
- 20% of Hoosier sixth-graders lack basic math skills (Source: 2011 ISTEP+ 6th grade math results; 20% of 6th graders failed ISTEP+ math)
Although we’ve made great progress these past eight years, Hoosiers know we’ve got to do even better.
My fellow Republicans, the tasks before us are clear:
First and foremost, we must make sure that Indiana once again becomes the first state on the board to make Barack Obama a one-term president of the United States.
Next, as we honor the dedicated career of Indiana Statesman Senator Richard Lugar, we must come together to put Richard Mourdock in the United States Senate.
We must ensure the victory of our candidates to the United States Congress, and make history when Susan Brooks and Jackie Walorski are elected to the United States House of Representatives.
We must send our principled Attorney General Greg Zoeller and our courageous Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett back to the Statehouse.
We must help Speaker Bosma and Senator Long extend our majorities in the Indiana House and Indiana Senate.
And I sure would appreciate it if you would put Mike and Sue in the Statehouse…and I promise you we’ll do our part to make all that happen!
We will carry our positive message to every corner of this state, in the city and on the farm. Through the summer and the fall, with your help and God’s help we will take the Pence Ellspermann team all the way to the statehouse on November 6, 2012!
Our campaign has been, and will remain, an optimistic, positive campaign of ideas, and I want to talk to you about a few of those ideas today.
Because this is not just about politics. Our task is much greater than just winning elections.
This is about Hoosiers. This is about our future.
I have always believed that ideas have consequences…that campaigns should be about the advancement of ideas more important than the success or failure of the candidate.
Now, most of you know I’m a conservative but not in a bad mood about it.
Here are a few of my core beliefs:
I believe integrity is everything.
I believe in hard work, an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and that you ought to treat others the way you want to be treated.
I believe in fiscal responsibility and personal responsibility…that government serves the people and should live within our means.
I believe that freedom and prosperity are directly linked.
I believe in the sanctity of life, the importance of family and faith, and in a culture of life where there is no such thing as an unwanted child.
My vision for Indiana is clear: to make Indiana the state that works.
Where we promote private sector job growth, develop world-class schools, protect taxpayers and support Hoosier families.
Where we create new products, develop new industries, find new cures, and send our Hoosier products from factory, farm and lab—to every part of the world.
Where Hoosiers are entrepreneurs and engineers, innovators and technicians, dreamers, builders and creators.
Where we believe in the future—and always look forward.
And that vision begins by putting Indiana first.
To make Indiana the state that works, we must have a governor who is willing to say “yes” to Indiana and “no” to Washington, D.C.
As your governor, I will fight for the right of every Hoosier to run our schools, buy our healthcare, build our roads and heat our homes without the heavy hand of the federal government breathing down our necks! Indiana must lead the fight for federalism—reject cap and trade and Obama care!
Next, to achieve our vision, we must begin with the end in mind.
On manufacturing floors across Indiana, work begins with the team going over their goals, measurements of success—how many units shipped, how many sold, how much inventory, how much downtime, how many consecutive accident-free days.
So, today I am announcing our goals for achieving the vision for making Indiana the state that works.
To make Indiana the state that works we must make JOB CREATION JOB ONE, and make it our aim to have more Hoosiers going to work than ever before in our state’s history!
That means our focus must be on:
- increasing private sector employment
- attracting new investment in Indiana, with emphasis on manufacturing, life sciences, agriculture and logistics
We will accomplish these by promoting continuous improvement and efficiency in state government and honestly balancing budgets. We will use the first dollar of any budget surplus to ensure our fiscal health, and then use the next dollar to grow the economy, not the government!
And I believe the time has come to cut taxes for every Hoosier, in the city, in the factory and on the farm…until we make Indiana the most attractive place in the Midwest to start a business, grow a business, or get a job!
And being the state that works will mean recognizing that we cannot succeed in the marketplace, if we fail in the classroom.
Everything I know about education I learned from my school teacher wife. Karen has been a classroom teacher for her entire career. She taught me a long time ago that teaching is a calling, that Indiana has some of the best teachers in the world and that there’s nothing that ails public education that can’t be fixed if we give parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach!
Our schools must work for all of our kids regardless of where they start in life and regardless of where they want to start their careers.
This means our next goals must include:
- improving the reading and math skills of elementary students
- increasing graduation rates
- improving the quality of Indiana’s workforce
…until the Hoosier state has the best educated and the best skilled workforce in America!
That will mean holding students to higher standards, where every 4th grader can read, where more kids are succeeding in the math and science courses so critical to finding a good-paying job. And I believe the time has come to make vocational education a priority again in every high school in Indiana!
Look, in Indiana, we do two things well. We make things and we grow things… some of our greatest success stories are of men and women who began their careers working with their hands.
Being the state that works should mean that our schools work for all our kids. Whether you’re college-bound, or you want to get right into a job…our high schools must be there to help every student start on success.
And being the state that works will mean recognizing our present crisis is not just economic and political, but moral. To renew our land, we must strengthen the institutions that nurture the character of our people…most especially the family.
That means our final goal must be:
- Improving the health, safety and well-being of Hoosier families, especially children.
To be the state that works, Indiana must be the state where family works. Where men and women can get enough work to support a family. Where childhood poverty is in decline and strong, healthy families are on the rise. Where every child is cherished and protected and nurtured by those who are responsible for their care.
In the weeks ahead, we will be outlining our strategies and solutions for moving Indiana from reform to results.
With these goals before us, we can take Indiana from good to great. We CAN become the state that works.
And I believe we will. I have faith.
First, I have faith in all of you.
If the past eight years showed us anything, it’s that Hoosiers are willing to do hard things, to embrace change, to demand a government as good as our people. To build schools of promise and policies that will ensure jobs and opportunities for this generation and the next.
We’ve made Indiana the fiscal envy of the country and a place known for bold reforms in the workplace and in our schools.
And I know we will do it again.
But I am confident for one other reason.
Two centuries ago, as our pioneer forebearers labored to carve a home in the woods that was Indiana, they did not labor alone. And I believe with all my heart that He who made a way through that dense and dangerous forest, through harsh elements, toils and snares is with us still today.
This then is our cause. This is Indiana’s moment and I promise you: My family and I will work every day from now until Tuesday, November 6, to bring about a victory…not just for our party but for all the people of Indiana.
For while I am honored to be the standard bearer of our party, my ambition is to be the standard bearer for every Hoosier who dreams for a better life, for every mom and dad struggling to build a future, and every child—maybe with a cornfield in their backyard—who dreams great dreams and desires nothing more than to live them out, in a place you can only find at the crossroads of the American dream, the heart of the heartland, right here in Indiana.
Now, let’s get to work!